Nearly $3.5 million in sponsorships and $1.5 million in in-kind donations have been secured for Unity Park.
Work to demolish the city of Greenville’s old public works complex on Hudson Street is expected to start this quarter. The demolition has to be completed before construction of the park can begin. Bidding in an online auction for items left at the site closes at the end of this month.
The first phase of the park will include a pedestrian bridge over the Reedy River, a destination playground and water feature, Welborn Square, a visitors center and gathering hall, a great lawn, and improvements to Hudson Street and the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
The estimated cost of the first phase of the park is nearly $41.2 million.
Private fundraising efforts have raised $3.475 million so far with additional commitments to cover some of the construction expenses, said Bill Fox with the Hughes Agency, which has been contracted by the city to fundraise for the park.
The first year of fundraising has concentrated on major gifts of $250,000 or more, Fox said.
Hughes Agency has $2 million more in soft commitments and more than $6 million in proposals outstanding, he said.
An additional $1.6 million in grant requests has been made, he said.
“It has gone better than expected,” said Mayor Knox White. “We knew there would have to be a public-private partnership because that’s the Greenville way, and the private sector has responded.”
Most gifts received so far have been at least $250,000. This year’s fundraising efforts will focus on securing smaller corporate gifts, White and Fox said.
There will be opportunities for community members to contribute to the park, as well, they said. One way is to sponsor a step in the park’s observation tower, White said. The tower will have 200 steps, and if each one is sponsored at $10,000, it will generate $2 million.
“The tower will be the focal point of fundraising this year,” White said.